Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 7th Nov 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with all safeguarding news, information and updates. Between publications you can also get in the moment updates on safeguarding news by following us on Twitter @SSSlearning and my commentary on @Sam_SSSLearning

As I hope you know, at SSS Learning we really value your feedback and ideas on how we can further develop our service – we love your suggestions so keep them coming! 

Recently one of our schools asked if we could develop a service on our platform that would allow them to direct staff to read their bespoke policy documents, or any other publications, and provide evidence to track they had been accessed.

We thought this was a great idea so we’ve done it. You can now create a library of links and individually direct each member of staff to the documents relevant to them / their role.

To access this part of the service simply click on the ‘your policy documents’ button in the ‘your account’ section at the bottom of the admin dashboard follow the instructions to input links to your documents (for example on your school/academy website) then follow the instructions to issue an email to your team asking them to read the documents.

As soon as the documents are read by each team member this will be evidenced in the ‘show other reports‘ section accessed from your admin dashboard.

We’d love to hear what you think of this new resource, included at no extra cost, and if you have any ideas for further enhancing the system please contact us at: support@ssslearning.co.uk”

In the news:

Huddersfield grooming gang: guilty of multiple sex offences against young girls

Six members of a West Yorkshire grooming gang, convicted of multiple sexual offences against young girls in Huddersfield between 2005 and 2007, were sentenced last week.

The convictions were secured following Operation Tendersea, a police investigation into the systematic sexual exploitation of young and vulnerable girls in the Huddersfield area between 2004 and 2010.

Umar Zaman, 31, and Samuel Fikru, 32, were both found guilty of two counts of rape, each receiving a sentence of eight years. Zaman, who has previous convictions including burglary, drugs supply, violence and racially-aggravated offences, is currently on the run and believed to be in Pakistan. Fikru, who has previous convictions for sexual assaults and battery, was found guilty of two attacks on the same girl.

Three other men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were also found guilty and sentenced:

A 32-year-old man jailed for fourteen years for five counts of rape against two girls, which included raping one victim orally at knifepoint and another girl who he left lying bleeding in a park after taking her virginity; Another 32-year-old man jailed for eight years for raping a teenage girl outside near to a school; A 38-year-old man jailed for seven years for attempting to rape a teenage girl, who was wearing her school uniform, behind a shop.

A sixth man, 36-year-old defendant Banaris Hussain, also found guilty of raping a “particularly vulnerable” girl when others were present and abusing her at the same time, was sentenced to ten years this week.

The successful prosecutions and convictions are the culmination of over four years’ close collaboration between West Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The evidence, submitted to the CPS following an intensive and complex police investigation, included hours of detailed victim evidence against a large number of potential suspects.

Michael Quinn from the CPS said: “This case involved the cynical exploitation of a number of young girls by a group of predatory men in the Huddersfield area. These men deliberately targeted vulnerable children. The men cynically groomed and exploited children for their own sexual gratification, drawing them into a dark and sordid world in which they had little or no control over their lives. Throughout, the men cared only for themselves and viewed the girls as objects to be used and abused at will. At the heart of this case are the victims. They have all suffered trauma as a result of their childhood abuse. They have all shown immense courage in coming forward to assist the investigation and support the prosecution case.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard McNamara, West Yorkshire Police, said: “We welcome the sentencing of these six men for offences which can only be described as depraved.

Nursery licence suspended following sexual offence arrest

Following a number of unannounced visits last month, Ofsted have suspended the licence of Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay. The visits to the nursery were carried out by the regulator following the arrest of a male employee, who is being currently being questioned on suspicion of multiple sexual offences.

The male suspect was arrested after a child alerted parents to an alleged incident. Having reviewed more than 250 hours of CCTV footage recorded within the nursery setting, Devon and Cornwall Police have launched a “major investigation” having also identified a number of additional potential victims aged between two and five.

To date officers have contacted around 100 families of children who attended the nursery, however have stressed that not all of these contacts have been made to identify potential victims. 

Acting Detective Chief Inspector James Stock, Devon and Cornwall Police, said contact with the suspect appeared to be “limited to within the nursery setting and we do not believe that any other member of staff had knowledge of these matters. These appear to be the actions of a lone individual and the offences do not involve the taking or distributing of any images.”

The male suspect is under strict bail conditions until 22 November.

(Note: SSS Learning has produced a Child Protection course, designed to meet the statutory requirements of KCSIE (2019), which is bespoke to supporting non-maintained nursery settings. You may wish to share this link with your feeder nurseries).

Child Abuse offences reach an all-time high

New figures, as a result of NSPCC Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to police forces, state that in the year 2018-2019 there were 76,204 recorded sexual offences against children in the UK – a 60% increase on the previous year. The offences recorded included grooming, sexual assault and rape with 16,773 offences recorded against children 10 and under. This included 341 offences against babies under the age of 1. 

Statistics obtained by the NSPCC also report that a child abuse image offence is recorded every 7 minutes in the UK. 

Times investigation links trafficking and private education

An investigation carried out by The Times claims that private schools are making hundreds of thousands of pounds from Vietnamese children who are entering Britain on student visas then subsequently disappearing.

The investigation carried out by the newspaper found that children thought to be as young as 15 are being brought to the UK by suspected trafficking gangs through legitimate visas sponsored by private schools. It uncovered at least 21 Vietnamese children, in Britain on Tier 4 child visas, have vanished from boarding schools and private colleges in the past 4 years including 8 children who have gone missing from the £25,000-a-year Chelsea Independent College, the west London school owned by the for-profit body Astrum Education. Astrum Education Group stated it had been targeted by “organised criminal activity” and has reviewed safeguarding procedures. 

All the schools and colleges identified in the investigation followed protocol and reported the disappearances to police and the Home Office. 

APPG calls for review of school exclusion

A cross-party group of MPs, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on knife crime, has called for a review of school exclusions as evidence presented revealed that children outside of mainstream schools are at serious risk of grooming and exploitation by criminal gangs. A report produced by the APPG is calling for a government-led review to examine why many excluded children do not get the full-time education they are legally entitled to and calls for an end to part-time education for excluded pupils. 

Crucially the report calls for measures to make mainstream schools more accountable for the children they exclude. Under current legislative powers, if proposed action by a parent / guardian is deemed to place a child at further risk then social care action can be taken to prevent this action in order to safeguard and protect the child. However, there are no legislative measures in place to prevent exclusions when social care deems such action may increase the contextual safeguarding risk to a child.

Exclusion background statistics:

  • In England, there were 7,900 permanent exclusions in 2017/18 – a 70% increase since 2012/13;
  • APPG research has found that a third of local authorities in England do not have spaces in their pupil referral units (PRUs) for excluded children. (Young people who do secure a place are sometimes only taught for a couple of hours each day, with a restricted curriculum of just English and Maths);
  • Young people receiving free school meals are about four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school;
  • young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are over five times more likely to be excluded permanently;
  • children with SEND make up an alarmingly high percentage of all children who are excluded – 44.9 of permanent exclusions and 43.4 % of fixed-period exclusions in 2017/18;
  • There were 47,513 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year ending June 2019 across England and Wales – a 44% increase since March 2011.
  • Home Office statistics (2019) show that more than 17,500 boys aged 14 carry a knife or weapon in England and Wales; a third of those arming themselves have had weapons used against them.

Chair of the APPG, Sarah Jones, said:

“The number of children being excluded from school and locked out of opportunities is a travesty. They are easy pickings for criminal gangs looking to exploit vulnerable children. Excluding children must be a last resort. Our fight against this knife crime epidemic must start from the principle that no child is left behind. Schools and local authorities must be supported by government to do this.”

The link between school exclusions and knife crime has previously been raised by the cross-party youth violence commission.

DfE Direction Notice for Stoke Children’s Services

Stoke City Council Children’s Services, rated inadequate by Ofsted in February this year, have until January next year to identify another council with which it can enter into a formal partnership to help turn around provision. In their judgement following the last inspection, Ofsted warned that vulnerable children were not being safeguarded. A DfE-appointed commissioner of children’s services, Eleanor Brazil, was placed at the authority to determine how improvements could be made.

Her report for the Minister of State for Children and Families has found that the council does not have the capacity to make the necessary improvements on its own. Whilst recognising Stoke on Trent as an area of high deprivation with a high proportion of children living in poverty in some areas in the city and that the council have a number of strategic plans in place, the report found that those “relating to children do not seem to have driven improvements in the support and care for the most vulnerable children in the city.” Brazil also warned that the issues at Stoke are so significant that it is likely to take at least 2 years to see improvements in services

By 31 January 2020 the authority must have an agreed formal partnership arrangement with a strong local authority to deliver all of its children’s social care services functions. Whilst such a partnership is being sought the council will receive support from Stockport and Essex Children’s Services Departments, both part of the DfE Partners in Practice programme.

Children’s services in St Helens downgraded to “inadequate”

Children’s services in St Helens Metropolitan Council have been downgraded, rated “inadequate” for “widespread and serious failures” in the quality of services for looked-after children and care leavers.

Previously rated as “requires improvement” in 2014, services were subject to an Ofsted focussed visit focussing on children in need and child protection services in 2018 which criticised the department. The most recent inspection, carried out in September this year, found that while children that required help and protection were not at risk of immediate harm those in care experienced “significant drift and delay“.

Parental Controls Resource

Although the report produced by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) still identifies mainstream TV channels as the most common way we watch television, it cannot be denied that the world of online streaming is a growing medium offering access to a multitude of films, box sets and programmes. With so many options and such variety of choice it is increasingly difficult for parents to ensure they can monitor and regulate what their children are watching. 

To help we’ve produced a quick guide with links to the most popular online streaming services which you may like to place on your website. Simply use the following link.

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